Notes in Passing



  • What Slate, does, and
  • Why you should try it today, and
  • How to make it happen in less than 10-15 minutes.

Managing windows is an integral part of almost all computer sessions: you switch between them, change how large your windows are are, and (if you’re super lucky) move them between different displays.

Slate is a Window Management Application.

Slate provides configurable key bindings that give you control over your windows. With a single key press, you can switch between applications, make windows change to a certain size, or jump between displays.

If you’re not already using an application that provides these benefits, you should check out this write-up I created for getting started with Slate.

Why should you care about this?

You might not. But..

Window Management takes time

If you’re not using an application like Slate, try counting up the amount of time you spend switching between, and managing, windows.

Switching between applications or changing the size of a window necessarily requires you to stop your train of thought and engage in a trivial and error prone task.

The total time isn’t bad: 2 seconds, maybe 5 seconds if you make a mistake, but you do this every day, dozens or maybe even hundreds of times.

No one benefits from this. Not the designer. Not the developer. Not the writer. Not the artist. Not the scientist.

What’s the alternative?

With a little work, you can make window management as second nature for you as typing is. Once you learn to type, you don’t think about typing: your fingers start going and words appear.

The same can be true for everything to do with windows: soon you’ll be in a situation where you start typing and windows start flying around.

If you’re still not sold,

Presentations take a whole lot of focus

When you are giving a presentation and your computer is displaying something on a big screen in front of a dozen or more people, you likely want to concentrate on your presentation and its content.

In particular, you don’t want to lose any of your focus cycling between applications, moving windows around, or manually adjusting their size so that everything fits on the screen. Especially not in front of 10 people. Or 20. Or 100.

Next Steps

If you’re willing to give Slate a try, I recommend starting with a write-up I made called Getting started with Slate. I’m suggesting this path because there are a bunch of configuration options and I initially found them overwhelming.

The idea of this write-up is that it should get you up and running in 15 minutes. If it doesn’t, send me an email on where I went wrong and I’ll see if I can help you out.

If Slate doesn’t seem right for you, but you are interested in window management, then start googling around for alternatives. There are a bunch of them and many have really slick user interfaces and videos showing exactly what you can accomplish.

Either way- hopefully you’ll check this out: I couldn’t go back to working without it.